Social Enterprise: What’s love got to do with it?

Is love an essential requirement for a successful social enterprise? Or is it actually a by-product, the mechanism or even the result of one?

In recent months, my social enterprise, Social Spider CIC, has been working with Intentionality CIC on Social Enterprise: What’s love got to do with it? – a report on the role of love in social enterprise. The report is available to download here. It would be great to hear what you think.



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2 responses to “Social Enterprise: What’s love got to do with it?

  1. When our founder died in 2011, the civic activists he worked alongside in Ukraine paid tribute to his efforts. saying:

    “The author of breakthru report “Death camps for children” Terry Hallman suddenly died of grave disease on Aug 18 2011. On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission – rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished.”

    In 1996, it was his seminal paper which argued the case for business for social benefit in which the fundamental predicate was that no person is disposable. I went through the bilbiography after his death to discover more about those who influenced his thinking. One that stood out was Erich Fromm, who had said in ‘The Art of Loving’:

    “Love of the helpless, the poor and the stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love ones flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its young and cares for them. Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, does love begin to unfold. Compassion implies the element of knowledge and identification. “

    Of course, we don’t each need to reason these things to understand that business with a social purpose is implicity driven by love. Yet, as a recent study reveals activists for social justice are more likely to be driven by logic than emotion. The case for purpose driven business was strategic as well as moral, arguing for enlightened self-interest to prevent civil unrest.

    It was something I was drawn into 11 years ago, by a man fasting for economic justice and for as much as can be said about love, I’ve yet to find another case for placing it at the core of business and economics.


  2. Perhaps the most important point about the application of love is that it should not be transactionally based. It was an argument about the primacy of human beings, a fundamental predicate that no human is disposable which was central to the case for a business which puts people before profit. It was shared free to use, in the spirit of the open source movement.

    This ideal carries forward to the case made for investing in children. The strategy paper was delivered to government in 2006, free for them to leverage international support – on one condition, that they close down the psychoneurological internats, where many children perish. A pledge in 2007 to create 400+ rehab centres was taken as a sign of acceptance. The paper itself makes a point about monetary considerations:

    “However, it is essential to not get lost in financial numbers and budgets. These are only important to show how this will work and will end up costing less money as the new program is fleshed out and the old program is closed. Most important is the welfare of each of these children. There are at this time, for example, numerous institutions across Ukraine where children die on a daily basis from little more than lack of knowledge about how to help them. The actual cost of helping them immediately is nothing more than one-day workshops for existing staff, to demonstrate basic, simple medical interventions common in the West. ”

    The case that every child deserves a loving family was not of interest to social enterprise media, so it was shared with MkKinsey:


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